Hit & Run / Leaving the Scene of an Accident

When you’re involved in an auto accident, your adrenaline is pumping and you may not make the best decision. If you left the scene of an accident, that is very likely what happened to you. But now you’re facing criminal charges after a hit & run accident, a serious crime.

Criminal Charge in Massachusetts? Call Attorney Russell Matson at (781) 817-6332.
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Most hit and run incidents in Massachusetts are fairly minor leaving the scene of property damage cases: typically a parked car, a fence, a signpost, utility pole or street lamp.  But sometimes they cases can be much more serious, such as if a person is injured as a result of the accident.

Leaving the scene of an accident can potentially result in serious criminal penalties.

But very often, I can get these cases thrown out, even when you are clearly guilty.

Case Wins – Leaving the Scene
June 2015
Westborough – Dismissed
May 2015
Cambridge – Continued for 6 Months
Cambridge – Dismissed
February 2015
Dedham – Dismissed
Malden – Dismissed
November 2014
Wrentham – Dismissed
October 2014
Salem – Dismissed
August 2014
East Boston – Dismissed
Cambridge – Dismissed
Taunton – No Citation Issued
July 2014
Haverhill – Dismissed
May 2014
Bellingham – No Citation Issued
April 2014
Haverhill – Dismissed
March 2014
Quincy – Dismissed
Plymouth – Dismissed
November 2013
East Boston – Dismissed
September 2013
Dedham – Dismissed
Milford – Dismissed

Yes, you heard right. It’s  absolutely true.

At a clerk’s hearing, many clerk magistrates are willing to not go forward with a criminal charge, even if the facts support it. Assuming you have a clean record and it’s not a serious case with an injured victim,  I can very often convince them not to issue the charge and drop the case.

In the interest of justice, in what was an accident and perhaps a lapse in judgment, no good purpose is served to put someone through the criminal justice system. And most magistrates are very fair and decent on this.

Give me a call, and I’ll tell you about some of my recent successes in representing people charged with Leaving the Scene, and also what you need to do right now to avoid more problems.

Beating a Leaving the Scene of the Accident Charge

My book on How to beat a Clerk Magistrate's Hearing.

How to beat a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing

There are quite a few ways to avoid a conviction and a criminal charge in a leaving the scene case.

I wrote an entire book on the Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing process. That is the most common way to win, but not the only way.

As you can see, I get a lot of these cases, and most of the time, if they are straightforward, with no one injured, and any property damage gets paid for, I can make them go away.

I Got a Citation for Leaving the Scene – What Now?

If you received a citation in the mail, you have 4 days to mail the notice in to request a clerk magistrate’s hearing. You should absolutely do this promptly and I can talk to you about representation at a clerk’s hearing.

This hearing is designed to determine if there is sufficient probable cause to move forward with a criminal charge. This hearing can be a good opportunity for us to get the case removed if the evidence that you were the driver is not strong. I have been able to get these cases dismissed prior to arraignment, which essentially means the charge never happened.

I haven’t been cited, but the Police are calling me and threatening me.

They are trying to gather evidence against you. Sometimes they will do this by calling you, knocking on your door, or harassing you. Sometimes they will even send you a formal letter in the mail asking to you show up at the police station at a specific date and time to answer questions. “Failure to appear at the time and date indicated above may result in notification being forwarded to the Office of the Registrar of Motor Vehicles and/or a Court Complaint to be filed.”

My advice is don’t talk to them without a lawyer. Almost all of the time, you are going to cause yourself more trouble trying to explain it away.

You are far more likely to talk yourself into trouble than out of trouble.

I can run interference and shut them down, or sometimes go with you to talk to the police.

If you end up getting cited after not talking to them, it is a near certainty that it was going to happen anyway. And you haven’t given them anything to use against you, so we still have a great chance to fix this without a criminal charge being filed.

Your Duty to Stop Under Massachusetts Law

If you’re involved in an accident, you are required by law to stop immediately and exchange information with the other driver. If that person is injured you are to wait for emergency assistance on the scene and give your account to the police. Failing to do this often results in a criminal citation.

If this is what happened to you, it can often be the result of panic, or not knowing what to do. Whatever may have happened, we need to fix the problem right away.

Or you may not have been aware of your legal duty to stop. I have even seen clients who didn’t even know they’d been in an accident.

Whatever the case, you need a defense attorney ready to defend your actions and work towards the best results possible in court.

Massachusetts Leaving the Scene of an Accident- Penalties

The penalty you face for leaving the scene of an accident depends on the nature of the accident.

Leaving the Scene of Property Damage: If the accident only resulted in damage of property you will face fines ranging from $20 to $200 and jail time of 2 weeks to a maximum 2 years.

Although the misdemeanor penalties allow for a jail sentence, there is virtually no chance that will happen if no one was seriously hurt. In fact, almost all of my recent leaving the scene cases were disposed of by pre-trial probation or dismissals.

Leaving the Scene of Personal Injury: If the accident resulted in the injury of another person, your fines are increased to $500 to $1,000 with the potential of spending 6 months to 2 years in jail. See my page on Leaving The Scene of an Accident with Personal Injury for more details.

Death: Although it is rare, if the accident resulted in someone’s death, you can face felony charges. This means you may serve up to 10 years in prison and pay $5,000 in fines. You can also be charged with motor vehicle homicide.

Ref: MGL §90.24

Leaving the Scene – Other Defenses and Legal Strategies

I have had good success at winning these cases in a variety of different ways. The goal is always to avoid a criminal charge and prevent any damaging impact your life and your livelihood.

We can quite often beat these charges and avoid having a criminal complaint issued at clerks magistrate’s hearings. This essentially means no charges were ever filed. This is the best possible result.

For cases that were arraigned and charged, I have been able to work out pleas that resulted in a disposition of pretrial probation. Pretrial probation means is a disposition where the defendant does not make any admission in court, the defendant agrees to be placed on probably for a certain time, after that probationary period, the case is dismissed.

These kinds of penalties can change your life. They are nothing to take lightly and certainly nothing to take on by yourself. Whether the police already located you and you’ve been charged or if you were involved in an accident and think there may be a warrant out for your arrest—I can help.

If this is your first criminal charge, there’s a good chance we can work out a favorable plea agreement with the prosecution. You may not have to serve any jail time at all. Contact me today for a free consultation on your case and some valuable legal advice.

(781) 817-6332

Call Now for a Free Criminal Consultation.